Tjen Folket Media wishes to be a platform for debate and ideological struggle. We have received articles from individuals, both within Tjen Folket Media, as well as from outside, who wish to answer a blog post on the blog MLM Thoughts that levied heavy criticism against Maoists in the US and Germany. These comrades are a part of the same movement as Maoists in Norway, and Norwegian activists are eager to counter the criticism. One may send editorials to firstname.lastname@example.org. If one wishes to send articles anonymously and securely, we recommend sending it from a public computer with an email address one has created for the occasion. Tjen Folket Media reserves the right to make corrections to any articles received if needed.
This is an English translation of an article earlier published originally in Norwegian on Tjen Folket Media.
By Ragnar V. Røed.
The blog “MLM-thoughts” has made a series of posts against maoism (MLM), under cover of being “MLM thoughts” [marxist-leninist-maoist thoughts, trans.]. The first post attacks the Red Guards Austin (USA), and the second makes a similar but more extensive attack on an article from german Klassenstandpunkt.
I think it is rude when the blogger uses graphics from Red Guards Austin, to illustrate the blog that this person has dedicated to a polemic against them and others with the same political line as them. The last paragraph of this longer blog post is called “But what does this have to do with Gonzalo?” and is a disguised attack on chairman Gonzalo and his thought, even though the blogger claims it is not.
In the introduction I want to point out that norwegian maoists are only in the first stage of exploring, studying and applying the universal contributions of Gonzalo. The most important documents of the Communist Party of Peru are still not translated fully into norwegian. There are still no norwegian “experts” on Gonzalo Thought. But by striving to consequently apply the principles of Maoism, one will come far. And this debate is in this case part of the investigation. It is a part of the two-line-struggle and I am sure it will lead forward to a strengthened left line for maoism and the universally valid contributions of chairman Gonzalo in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat for political power in Norway as a part of the world revolution.
The blogger writes:
“This article is not one attack on Gonzalo. Gonzalo is a skilled Maoist theorist and the one who more than any other has summarized Maoism.”
The blogger might just have wrote “I am not against Gonzalo, but…” in the same way as the notorious “I am not a racist, but…” as people may have heard many times. All of this blog is in reality an attack on the contributions of Gonzalo, but the blogger does not realize it, does not want to realize it or realizes it, but makes the attacks disguised rather than openly. Conscious or unconscious it is an opportunist approach, but it has one positive side. It shows that Gonzalo is winning more and more respect, and that some now have to attack Gonzalo under cover of Gonzalo himself. This is good, and it shows that Gonzalo Thought has won some ground. And the main side of having debate about this issue is positive.
Maoists on the other hand, can not be content with saying Gonzalo is “a skilled theorist” that has “contributed” to “summarizing” maoism. Gonzalo is much more than a skilled theorist. Chairman Gonzalo was the foremost leader of the People's War in Peru. He was the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru, the party that he led the reorganization of. And he took the lead in developing Gonzalo Thought in Peruvian revolution. He did not only contribute to summarize maoism, but PCP as the world's first party to declare itself a maoist party (1982) and synthesized maoism in 1988 into what is still the most correct and advanced form. For a period they were alone in the world in this.
It was many years later that the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) used this summary, but then only partially. And it was more than 10 years later the Communist Parties in the Philippines and India used the term, but not even them as clearly and complete. Still today it is PCP and Gonzalo that has most clearly and precisely formulated maoism, and they were first, and that makes them into a shining star that shines clearer in the heaven than any other in our time. Their summary is correct and the task of maoists today is therefore to learn from it and apply it, principally to apply it to our own context to initiate People's War and establish a guiding thought.
The thesis of Maoism as a third and higher stage of Marxism, stems directly from Peru and chairman Gonzalo. And it was established in the middle of the foremost revolution after the fall of socialism in China. It was the people's war in the world that came the closest in our time to establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat in a whole country. It happened in the middle of the [liberal, trans.] “end of history” and in the aftermath of the collapse of the New Communist Movement that AKP(m-l) had been a part of.
To underestimate Gonzalo is a disguised attack on Gonzalo. No other leader have been on his level after 1980. He became the world's greatest maoist and the revolution he led was the centre of the world revolution. It among other things was shown by the reaction turning its attention towards it in to a completely different way and qualitatively higher level then they have done with any other People's War the last 40 years. The People's War in Peru is the greatest People's War after the People's War in China. Therefore it has given us the universally valid contributions of Gonzalo Thought and the leadership of chairman Gonzalo. And no slander, no attempt at spreading confusion and lies, no opportunism and no prisons, can take Gonzalo Thought and chairman Gonzalo away from the International Communist Movement and the world revolution.
The question of chairman Gonzalo is a question about ideology and leadership. It is not a question about the person Abimael Guzman. He is a hero that has paid an enormous price and has soon spent 30 years inside the dungeons of the enemy. But if Guzman tomorrow was released from prison in return for rejecting Gonzalo thought, the ideology will live on. It is invincible. And the leadership that has been given can not die either. It lives on embodied by the left line in the International Communist Movement. Chairman Gonzalo discusses the question of leadership in the great interview with El Diario from 1988. Here he explains that the question of forming a leadership and a leader above the others is a historical necessity in a revolution and happens on basis of a Guiding Thought. And with this thought one gets such a leader, the greatest Maoist of our time.
To not understand something is no crime. To investigate important conditions that one does not understand is not only a good thing, it is a duty for communists. To raise criticism of what deserves criticism is also a duty. This author does not claim to understand everything about this question, and does not want to shield even chairman Gonzalo from constructive criticism, not in any way. But opportunism is not engaging to really understand, or to raise necessary and constructive criticism, and has never been so either. The role of opportunism is to spread confusion, subjectivism and scepticism, to undermine the leadership and ideology, to dissolve and negate the basic principles of the ideology of the proletariat. It is in the subjectivist nature of opportunism to act this way. When this line shows up in the debate, as a dark thread through the standpoints of one debating party, it is the duty of the left line to identify it as an opportunist line.
It is correct that Gonzalo Though is Maoism applied to the revolution of Peru, or as PCP writes:
“Moreover, and this is the basis upon which all leadership is formed, revolutions give rise to a thought that guides them, which is the result of the application of the universal truth of the ideology of the international proletariat to the concrete conditions of each revolution; a guiding thought indispensable to reach victory and to conquer political power and, moreover, to continue the revolution and to maintain the course always towards the only, great goal: Communism;”
Concerning Gonzalo Thought
In Peru this guiding thought developed through some stages before it could be systematized as Gonzalo Thought. As it also was with Lenin Though (“bolshevism”) and Mao Thought (Mao Zedong Thought). But that a thought is developed in one country, and in the application of the universal truths of the ideology on one single revolution, does not mean it can not uncover new universal truths! In fact this is how new universal truths are proved, by applying theory in practice. This is central in the maoist theory of knowledge. Maoism became Maoism after Mao Zedong Thought, or rather the universal contributions of this though, was applied to the People's War in Peru. During the People's War in China this was still only systematized into Mao Zedong Thought. In Peru Mao's contributions was systematized into Maoism.
The left line in the International Communist Movement today claim that there are contributions of universal validity from Gonzalo, like constructing the instruments of the revolution in concentric circles, the militarization of the party, a developed theory on great leadership and on bureaucratic capitalism. To apply the universally valid contributions of Gonzalo in practice in a revolutionary war will confirm or eventually reject this.
The blogger writes:
“This article is part of an combat of puritanical Ultra-left deviation spread by several MLM organizations labeled with Gonzalo’s banner. Ultra-left deviation is just as reactionary as right-wing deviation, and must therefore also be combated.”
The blogger is quite right in proclaiming it is waging an attack on those who fight under the banner of Gonzalo. And it probably is not to speculative to assume that the blogger themself never has done anything to uphold Gonzalo's contribution to Maoism. The articles in the blog, is until now exclusively attacks on Maoists that upholds Gonzalo. The blogger attacks those that today works with or are part of the left line of the International Communist Movement, particular the Fifth Meeting of Maoist Parties and Organizations in Latin-America. The blogger attacks those who further what Gonzalo dedicated his life too. Instead of openly rejecting Gonzalo, the so called “struggle” is a disguised attack that claim to be in favor of both MLM and Gonzalo. But in every point in the criticism, the blogger deviates from Maoism. It is generally very misleading that the blog is called MLM thoughts, and that it is illustrated by a picture from Red Guards own graphics and even a painting of Mao.
There is no significant “puritan left deviation” in the International Communist Movement. This is a construction of the bloggers own mind. A construction with an obvious function. The blogger thinks ideological struggle (from the left!), demands upon cadres and strict security policy is “puritanism”. But it is of course not puritanism to fight for communist - which means militarized and maoist - organizing, or fighting for ideological clarity and waging sharp political struggle. It is a cliché of the right opportunist theatrical farce to answer all attacks against the right with “left deviations are just as bad”. We have heard this before. It is a replay of “NKP” [revisionist “Communist Party of Norway”, trans.] and old veterans of the Red Party [opportunist left social democratic party, trans.] and everyone that wants to unite a reformist practice with a self-image that they in reality are revolutionary.
Of course left deviations are also bourgeois in their content, but it does not make sense to portray the western left movement of today as a place where left deviations make up as big of a threat as right deviations. Rightist lines has during the the last hundred years liquidated every communist party with no exception in the western countries! All the big workers parties have become social democrats. All the ML-parties of the 70's have either been liquidated or went very far to the right. AKP(m-l)'s old party leader Pål Steigan has gone so far as to share his “immigration critical” agenda with racist Resett [conservative and racist news service, trans.]. Opportunism has become the chauvinism that Lenin said it would logically become.
In theory all errors are “equally wrong”. Only what is correct is correct. Everything else is wrong. But in practice no communist can agree that the “left”-deviation has played a role as reactionary in the workers movement in the imperialist countries as right opportunism has. Right opportunism, primarily in shape of the reformist and corporative social democracy, has in many countries been the prefered party of the bourgeoisie. They have formed bourgois governments in many western countries, and administered both colonies, interventions, imperialism and wars of aggression. No “left”-opportunist has been given such a role to play. In the form of modern revisionism, right opportunism has liquidated the dictatorship of the proletariat from within, in the Soviet Union and China, and established fascist regimes that have massacred and imprisoned revolutionary leaders. There is no sense in warning as strongly against the “left”-deviations. And it is directly harmful to warn more against this than against the rightist line! Those that fight exclusively against the “left”-deviation, and not against right deviations, objectively put themselves in the service of the rightist line. And it is also in opposition with Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Gonzalo, that clearly established that the right deviation made up the principal danger of deviation, at least in the imperialist countries.
Right opportunism, reformism, legalism, liquidationism and chauvinism are expressions of the same rightist line. The same strong pull towards the right that has ravaged the western workers movement for more than a century. The roots of this was discovered long ago by Lenin.
“Left”-communism [“radicalism”, trans.] might by the infantile disorder of communism, but the western “communism” has become sedate and senile. The false “communism” in the west is plagued by sicknesses of old age, and along with other lifestyle disorders in the west, all too many people get it at a way too young age. This “left movement” does not want to fight, it is afraid of the revolutionary war, it feels that demands and militancy does not belong in a communist party. It wants to run NGO's and be funded by the government, and most of all to run for elections. It wants to do everything, to find any excuse, to continue as a privileged “left” in imperialist countries, while our comrades sacrifice their lives and bleed for the cause in the Third World.
In his work Imperialism Lenin writes:
“It has to be noted that the tendency of imperialism to split the workers, to strengthen opportunism among them and to create a temporary rotting in the workers movement (...) Marx and Engels follow through decades the tendency of opportunism in the workers movement and the imperialist particularities of english capitalism.”
Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
And in the same work he writes:
“In many countries opportunism has on the contrary become ripe, overripe and has rotted so that its social chauvinism has melted completely together with the bourgeois politics.”
So there is a clear reason for opportunism to not as easily go to the “left” as to the right in imperialist countries like Norway. We might have seen left deviations in Norway in the form of third-worldism, but what is eye catching about these is how they in practice united with right opportunism. They willingly talked to media and police, and they mainly planned to do reformist work since the proletariat is corrupted or non-existing in the west. They did not want a militarized communist party of cadres either. Such a party the thirdworldists think there is no basis for in the imperialist countries. Here they unite with the blogger, who wants to water out the criterias of the party out of consideration for the particular conditions in such countries. And it is even unsure if third-worldism can be called a “left” deviation, as it bases itself on the revisionist Lin Biao and his rightist line for cooperation with [Soviet] revisionism and deviations from the line of proletarian leadership of the world revolution.
Also dogmatists of the “Marxist-Leninist” (Hoxhaist) type, unite in practice with the “Maoist” right opportunists. What is the meaning of “uniting in practice”? The point is they mainly have the same approach to practice; that conditions are not mature for a Communist Party, at least not a party of the new type of Lenin or Mao or Gonzalo. The conditions the timing, or the communists are not “ready” for a communist party that apply strict criteria in the selection of members, which is militarized in the People's War, and to involve in militant struggle. They prefer everything else, as long as it can be combined with an otherwise comfortable life, for example a (petty bourgeois) career. Again the hard struggle and toiling is left to the revolutionaries of the third world where the ”conditions are mature” for such sacrifices...
This is not written with any despise towards people that are not militant maoists and dedicated communists. The masses are the real heroes, and the large majority of the masses in our part of the world belongs to the category “not dedicated maoists”. It is written only as a warning to communists that the pull towards right opportunism is a particularly great danger in the imperialist countries. There are very big objective material factors that can contribute to making it easier here to see communism as a hobby as any other hobby, or as a personal conviction and for ceremonies at holidays, instead of a total dedication to revolution.
It has to be pointed out, that the blogger makes a big deliberate misrepresentation in the discussion. We are not talking about all kinds of organization here, but the Communist Party. A revolutionary movement must include the largest selection of people in all the different stages of development and in different levels of dedication. As participants and supporters in mass organizations of a long range of types, there is a place and a need for all kinds of people that for different reasons do not dedicate themselves fully to communism. The Party on the other hand is the highest form of class organization of the proletariat, consisting of those that are able to and is dedicated to form a leadership of the class. And Mao Zedong has solved the problem of the relationship between the party and the masses, by developing the Mass Line and the theory of the United Front. It is dishonest when the blogger claims that the line for a party of a new type, a general staff of the revolution, means communists only will organize the most dedicated. It is like claiming that those that think an army needs generals and officer schools, believes one can fight a war with only generals… On the contrary, as Lenin made clear in What is to be done? the professional revolutionary organization is not in opposition to organizing broad masses, it is a requirement for this. An amateurish leadership, where whoever can be a part, as if it was their right, can of course not lead a broad and strong movement.
The bloggers recipe is nothing but a recycling of the mensheviks and the Norwegian thranmælites line for the social democratic “Mass Party”. A party model which has shown that in these kinds of parties by necessity develops an exclusive bureaucracy, bigwigs, which in practice serves as a party within the party. The question about the party of a new type, of the militarization and the concentric construction of the party that puts stricts demands on its cadres, is today a key question in the struggle between the left and right in the communist movement in a number of imperialist countries.
The blogger is afraid of so called “puritanism” , in the same way the catholic church and their priests and bishops (and the pope!), feared the protestant rebels harsh demands and words. The catholic leaders wanted to continue their comfortable existence, with the sale of absolutions and blessed decadence. The very concept of puritanism was a word used as slander by the catholic apparatus against the reformation, which attacked the decay and corruption within the church. The Pope’s clergy detested protestant puritanism. They preferred monopoly on communicating with God and they preferred the coins for “absolution”. When the blogger dives into religious rethorics, we can wonder if he has thought about what the original religious “puritanism” actually was a rebellion against!
This is not an embrace of neither Luther nor Læstadius [Norwegian lutheran preacher, trans.], but when the blogger first open up for comparisons, it is long overdue to nail up some condemning theses on the doors of western NGOs, reformists and right deviationists, which most of all wants to keep their materially comfortable petty bourgeois life style and to keep politics as a hobby or even be able to generate some money from it….
The blogger writes:
“Gonzalo stressed the importance of maoism in MLM. The Puritarians stretches this further, and mechanically uses the long, cumbersome and very little pedagogical “marxism-leninism-maoism, principally maoism” consequently, instead of just writing “maoism”. This goes against Mao himself, who wrote easy and pedagogical.” (sic.)
Does the blogger talk about the same Mao Zedong that lead the party that after their own statements was guided by Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-tung Thought? The same term Serve The People [the communist league of Norway, trans.] used from 1998 to 2008? Is Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-tung Thought an example of something short, easy and pedagogical?
And why does the blogger pretend that the formulation about principally maoism doesn’t come from Gonzalo himself? Activists these days works to translate Gonzalo to norwegian. Just two years ago they translated the first document of the PCP Unity Base; On marxism-leninism-maoism.
In this document the PCP writes:
“In conclusion, the content of these basic questions clearly demonstrates to anyone who cares to see and understand that we have a third, new and higher stage of Marxism: Maoism; and that to be a Marxist today means to be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist and principally Maoist.”
The formulation about principally Maoism is for the first time made by the PCP and Gonzalo. It is used repeatedly in their most central documents. Does the blogger think that it just turned out this way? That it was a coincidence? Or maybe the blogger think the People's War in Peru and its tremendous victories, where the new power controlled 40% of the country and achieved strategic equilibrium with the old state, was lead by a party that couldn’t communicate with people?
In reading the documents of the PCP, principally developed by Chairman Gonzalo, we can see them masterfully using the law of contradiction as formulated by Mao Zedong. In their analysis they don’t only list phenomena, but they always point out what is the principal contradictions and the principal aspect. This is the Maoist (dialectical) method, that Gonzalo apply in a way that becomes very pedagogical! What can be more easy to grasp and more pedagogical, than not to only point at different aspects of an issue, but to also point out the principal aspect? Just as Chairman Gonzalo does with MLM, with democratic centralism, and in the question of what imperialism is principal right now, and in other important conditions for communists. This is the method both Stalin and Mao practised, but I dare to claim that the comrades in Peru has done this even more systematically and pedagogical. After all they stood on the shoulders of their predecessors, which made it possible to see even further and more clearly, even in this question.
Nonetheless the claim of the blogger is a bluff. There is no so called “puritans” as he tries to conjure. The PCP themselves often used only Maoism, the same does the European Maoist Parties and Organizations. The same is the situation in the texts of Klassenstandpunkt and Red Guards Austin, the targets in the bloggers “polemics”. Just take a look at Red Guard Austins Position Paper, where they mostly write Maoism. In the text by Klassenstandpunkt criticized by the blogger, they first use “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”, then they use “Maoism” two times, after that “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” and so on. This is “debate” on a very low and semantic level… But a find-search in their articles reveal neither RGA nor Klassenstandpunkt consequently, even not principally, use the whole expression “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism”. This is a feverish invention by the the blogger, and then the blogger makes a polemic against this fantasy.
In a statement signed by Maoist organizations from France, Norway, Finland, Austria, Germany, Turkey and the Peruvian People's Movement (abroad organization made by the PCP) that one can find in tjen-folket.no all the terms “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism”, “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” and only “Maoism” is used. There is no “puritan” (and laughable!) consequent use that the blogger talks about. Who are these puritans the blogger writes about? They don’t exist! Unless we are talking about confused individuals the blogger has met in social media. It might exist a few people like this.
To summarize: first of all, we must assume the blogger is against the term “principally Maoism” , but instead of saying so the blogger says that it must not be used consequently. Secondly, the blogger doesn’t realize that the term comes from Peru and Gonzalo. Third of all, the blogger bluffs about unnamed “puritans” claiming the term should be used consequently (always and in all contexts!). This is probably a covert attack on Gonzalo and those who upholds his contributions and against today's Maoism, concealed as an attack against rabid puritans who can’t communicate in a language people in general might understand.
If Maoism is a third and higher stage, Maoism is Marxism in our epoch, and one must conclude that maoism is the most important and therefore principal. It is centrism in its essence to “equate” Maoism with for example Leninism. It is opportunist to not take a stance. And it is opportunist to conceal your lack of knowledge or inability to take a stance today, with a bluff that one are actually against using the term consequently.
Anyway and in the end, it is great that attacks on Maoism like this emerges. It doesn’t show a weakness of Maoism, on the contrary! Ten or twenty years ago, a concealed attack on Maoism or Gonzalo was really unimaginable in Norway, and probably in many other imperialist countries too. This was something one had seen mainly in Peru and the Peru People's Movement (MPP) internationally. Right opportunism in the PCP and in the organizations generated by the Party had to attack the leadership of Gonzalo and Gonzalo Thought in his own name, in an attempt to liquidate the People's War, the Party and the whole revolutionary movement.
The splitting de-organization of the party and the consequences for the People's War did not happen because of “too much Gonzalo” or that some people was blind followers of Gonzalo Thought, the essence of the right opportunist line was completely against the principles of Gonzalo Thought. The [attempted, trans.] liquidation of the People's War and the [right opportunist] campaign for amnesty and reconciliation is completely against the fundamental documents and the general political line of the Party. No place did it say party members should follow blindly. On the contrary, they emphasized the two-line struggle and to never put down the weapons [“when the flag is hoisted, it cannot be taken down”]. This is the principles that must be followed, not the individual. This is as fundamental as the need of a leadership in a revolution and that the leadership will generate a leader that is above and in front of the others.
For a long time the right opportunists in most western countries has been able to reject Gonzalo and Maoism as it is formulated by the PCP. But today we see attacks on Maoism, under the guise of Maoism it self, exactly because Maoism and Gonzalo Thought is advancing. The first right opportunists will fight the red line in the open, just as Marxism was met with the totally dismissive opportunism of people like Lasalle or Dühring. But when such opportunists are defeated, the next attacks will be more disguised, as Bernstein and Kautsky, as Khrushchev and Brezhnev, as Hua and Deng. When the open opposition from the “outside” is defeated, the new opposition “from within” comes forward as the biggest threat.
Further on when Maoism advances, it will engage and involve people that has a lot of “luggage”. Opportunism in the proletarian movement has many sources, one of these are the people that has superficially taken a hold of the revolutionary proletarian ideology. Those who are trying to grasp, and attempts to unite new terminology and analysis with their old conceptions. Those who might have started to take one step, but has most of their weight on the foot in the other camp. Or those who lag behind in the development of the movement. Or those who has fallen backward or stagnated of different reasons. Opportunist thoughts and ideas can come from the most honest people, they can come from dedicated and active veterans, or from new and just as active recruits. And Lenin stated that opportunism is introduced in the proletarian movement especially from the petty bourgeois that is proletarized and politicized. All of this is completely natural. It is a part of the painful but necessary process of development and change that all that is living must go through.
It also has to be mentioned that when trotskyists, anarchists or revisionists, or comrades that is basically “only” marxist-leninists or followers of Mao Zedong Thought, becomes part of the maoist movement, in the beginning they will not have reorganized their entire ideology. Many grasps parts of Maoism wholeheartedly, but keeps their trotskyist or other mistaken views in some or several areas. This is not unnatural, but something everyone must keep in mind.
It is great that we get opportunists, who despite their bluff and naivety, at their very least must say “I am not against Gonzalo” before they attempt to drain everything revolutionary and vivid out of the contributions of Gonzalo, and in doing so also draining out the essence of the contributions from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. And it is very good for us Maoists, that right opportunism becomes formulated and is expressed. The more openly the better. Even in this somewhat disguised form it is clear which principles is first on the hit list. Its attack is principally directed against the clear ideological line, the irreconcilability against revisionism and against the militarized communist party that has strict criteria for the selection of cadre. And this is exactly how it reveals itself as right opportunism. But we can see too that it under the guise of fighting for a Party of “regular people”, it also attacks the Mass Line and the proletarization of the revolutionary organization [Party]. Right opportunism will always attack the left for being “sectarian” and not “popular”, but at the same time they end up with keeping the deepest and broadest masses on a distance.
It is a joy to debate questions and objections like this. Maoism has the best answers to these objections. And if there is something we cannot answer well enough, there is nothing we want more than to get exposed and criticized, so we can improve ourselves.
At the same time we must in the name of two-line struggle sharpen our line and don’t muddy the contradictions with opportunism. We must learn from the PCP and Gonzalo when they write:
”It is the two-line struggle that propels the development of the Party, its just and correct handling requires that the left must impose itself. We fight conciliation because it nourishes the right”
Line of construction of the three instruments of the revolution